It’s not easy to accept someone’s passing away, when you’ve known him for more than two decades. More so when that person happens to be your ex-colleague and dear friend.
Around 1988 is when I first got acquainted with V Ramani. He was then the Head of Media Planning on the Hindustan Lever business at Lintas. A driven and energetic tiger is how I saw him then. Much later, post 2000, I got to interact with him more frequently when he was a part of team Euro RSCG and MPG. Although very well-settled and comfortable in the job, he chose to be among the first few courageous souls that began the exploration and growth of digital media via the not-easy-at-all start-up route, taking head-on the twin challenges of evangelism and business building. As a founder member of Mediaturf and also – if I am not mistaken – of the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India), I saw him yet again as a driven and tireless man, who was quite clearly on a mission to change the media (read digital) landscape.
To be successful and to be able to fire on all cylinders requires many things to fall in place. Broadly the mid-nineties (the years that Ramani spent at Contract and when we got to work with him closely) was that time when I believe he was at his peak in more ways than one. Let me recount and remember his sterling professional qualities and prowess so that it inspires those who read this piece today and also for the benefit of those who didn’t necessarily get to work with him or see him in his best years.
It was a glorious time when account management, creative and media worked together and did ‘integrated’ work without making an issue of it. And Ramani made a big difference to this mix. Clearly a media leader. Deeply knowledgeable about the space. Respected by industry colleagues, media organisation heads and, of course, clients. Intensely focussed and result-oriented. Wanting to make a difference very badly all the time. Highly involved with and respectful of the creative process. A hugely value-adding team player. Energising co-worker. A solid faculty member at the Contract-Windows training programme. Captain (and self-appointed coach) of our cricket team. Sensitive to people working with him. Non-political. Given to intense disagreements and short-tempered interactions, but always for pure professional reasons and never with any hidden agenda. Openly and visibly appreciative of good work, no matter who got the credit for it. And despite all these strengths, very child-like in his enthusiasm for good new ideas.
Thanks to these big strengths of his, Ramani ensured that we looked at media planning with respect and with the right perspective. Not a necessary numerical evil to be grappled with, but rather a live dynamo replete with possibilities. In many ways, a reflection of the way he was!
Ramani, we will miss you sorely my friend. Be well, wherever you are and take care.
The author is Chief Executive Officer, Contract India.